Keith Ellison, the attorney general of Minnesota, declared on Thursday that he will not challenge a judge’s decision declaring key state abortion restrictions unlawful.
Ellison’s judgment comes two weeks after Ramsey County District Judge Thomas Gilligan struck down laws requiring both parents to be notified and a 24-hour waiting period before a child may have an abortion. The state has become an island of legal access to abortion in the Upper Midwest since the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling late last month. He also abolished a provision that only doctors can conduct abortions.
The first-term attorney general claimed that after assessing the advantages to the state, he decided not to appeal the decision. Over the course of more than three years, his agency fought to uphold state laws while the case made its way through the courts.
Democratic Representative Keith Ellison stated in a news release that he believes it is doubtful that a different outcome would be obtained through an appeal.
Ellison said that despite the Legislature’s best efforts, the limitations did not appear to have the desired effect of lowering the state’s abortion rates. He said that an appeal may divert his agency’s focus from other cases and raise taxes, adding that his staff had already spent $600,000 defending the legislation.
Ellison said that he opposed the limits personally and added, “It is also the appropriate option for Minnesota taxpayers and all Minnesotans who deserve the finality of knowing that they can make intimate decisions about their own bodies free of excessive intrusion by the government.”
While pro-life organizations applauded Ellison’s decision, opponents of abortion claimed it went against the Legislature’s intent.
According to Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States, “As the largest abortion provider in the state, Planned Parenthood now has the finality and legal certainty required for us to continue to provide our patients with high-quality abortion care free from unwarranted government interference.”
The decision left Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life’s executive director Scott Fischbach saying the organization was “very saddened.”
The attorney general has chosen not to continue defending these long-standing and pro-women policies, according to Fischbach.
A major topic of discussion in the race for attorney general has been the court’s ruling and what should happen next.
Jim Schultz and Doug Wardlow, the Republican candidates, have urged Ellison to appeal the case and have pledged to do so if elected.
Ellison’s choice not to file an appeal, according to Schultz, was driven by politics.
On Twitter, Schultz stated that “these bipartisan measures are plainly constitutional and Minnesota needs an Attorney General who will stand up to activist courts.”
Wardlow attempted to establish himself as the strongest anti-abortion contender on Wednesday by pledging to bring charges against any abortionists who breach the law and contesting the state court ruling defending access to abortion.
On August 9, Schultz and Wardlow will face battle in the Republican primary. In the general election in November, the victor is anticipated to run against Ellison.
Before the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, which allowed abortion in all 50 states, Minnesota abortion providers had already been experiencing an increase in demand from as far afield as Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama. They acknowledge that it is too soon to predict on how much Ellison’s choice would hasten that process, but they all believe that it will significantly ease their burden.